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Skrebowski on oilfield technology and the race against peak oil

Dan Amoss, Daily Reckonging (Australia)
…Yet despite having access to the best oilfield technology in the world, most big projects still suffer from bottlenecks, delays, and cost overruns. This phenomenon is widespread enough that it supports the core ideas behind the Peak Oil theory – most notably that the “easy oil” has already been consumed.

Chris Skrebowski, editor of Petroleum Review, became a leading Peak Oil theory proponent after initially setting out to prove that it was nothing more than worrywarts seeking to make headlines. With decades of international oilfield consulting and research experience, he ran the numbers and concluded that data on both historical production and future projects was not precise enough to assume ample oil supply as far as the eye can see.

So Skrebowski started a “megaprojects” database to track the projects widely expected to satisfy growing demand. He’s noticed an undeniable trend of delayed startups and shortages of everything from drilling rigs to qualified personnel. Assuming that the current backlog of projects proceeds without a hitch, he expects that ” 24.8 [million barrels per day] of new capacity [is] due to come onstream between January 2007 and December 2012.”

An extra 24.8 million barrels per day of new capacity may sound like plenty for the world’s 2012 production needs. After all, it represents a little over 4% annual growth over the next 6 years. But this ignores depletion of the existing base, the elephant in the room that most Peak Oil critics either overlook or avoid. Skrebowski warns that the data behind the existing base, especially from national oil companies like Saudi Aramco, is not transparent enough for us to make happy assumptions about long-term supply. If average global depletion is running a little over 4% per year – a fair estimate – the world is likely to have the same oil production capacity in 2012 as it has today.

Skrebowski draws two conclusions from his latest megaprojects analysis. “First, data on production, project performance, and depletion rates is wholly unsatisfactory, particularly for the OPEC producers. Second, the large volumes of new capacity being added between 2007 and 2012 may not translate into the sort of increased production flows the world economy needs to underpin economic growth.”
(13 April 2007)

Alternate Reality Game: Surviving a World Without Oil

Chris Dahlen, Pitchfork
Here’s the scenario: the world hits “peak oil,” and the supply starts to dwindle. All around the planet, gas prices go up and economies choke. From rich to poor, from the city to the country, everyone is affected by the scarcity of a resource that’s as crucial as air. So who would you turn to? The scientists? Big Oil? Al Gore, or heck, Dick Cheney? Or for a problem of this scale, that gives everyone a slightly different pain, would you turn to the public at large– and get everyone to come together in spontaneous teams and find a solution?

Let’s say you try the crowds. Since the 90s, we’ve seen more and more cases where a group of once-strangers meet online and collectively, bit by bit, solve insurmountable problems. French philosopher Pierre Lévy called it “collective intelligence,” and in 1994 he wrote about the profound social and cultural change it would bring. But to the team behind World Without Oil, collective intelligence can also be a game.

Writer Ken Eklund came up with the idea for World Without Oil in 2005. The Independent Television Service in San Francisco was looking to fund an Internet game, and Eklund’s idea was to use the ‘net to bring people together around one problem: imagining what it would be like to experience, and overcome, an oil shock. Eklund and his team have designed a “very realistic” scenario for how it could happen, and when the game launches on April 30, it’ll be a kind of collaborative storytelling exercise. The team will plant leads and challenges for the players, but the players will make up their own nightmares.

“I think people have this wall in their imaginations where they go, ‘Oil shock. Bad.’ If you can just get them to look over the wall, to take that one more step where they begin to just imagine [what it means], then they begin to get engaged with the problem,” says Eklund. “We have this page which is just filled with absolutely blank terror. Let’s just tame this, by putting some form to it. What’s it actually going to be like? We can figure this out, collectively.”

World Without Oil is an example of an alternate reality game, which means, to quote Wikipedia, “an interactive narrative that uses the real world as its platform.”

The website— which right now, is just a teaser– introduces the scenario. We hear about eight characters who were stuck in a blizzard in Denver Airport. While they were there, they got a tip that something bad was going to happen on April 30th– and that’ll mark the kick-off of the game.
(13 April 2007)
The website mentioned is only a placeholder, but it does have an About Us (see below)

About “World Without Oil”

By: Chuckles, Gala_Teah, Gracesmom, Illiana_Speedster, Inky_Jewel, LocalBoy, Pachinko, YuckyMuck with Dessum9 and mPathytest

We’re Preparing for a Crisis

Imagine eight people brought together by trouble: trapped together (with thousands of others) in the Denver airport by a blizzard. We had a lot of time on our hands. We talked. We bonded. Awww. How nice.

One thing we talked about a lot: how the Internet scoops the official media. It’s real obvious in a crisis. In Denver, as in the Katrina disaster, people found the true story on the Internet. News stories and gumment bulletins can never hope to match the agility of citizen bloggers and mobloggers, nor their honesty of people talking one to another. Internet people are the real first responders today, the boots on the ground.

Now, here’s the thing. We eight have come to believe that a crisis is coming – on April 30, to be precise. (An oil shock, or something to do with oil.) We have no proof – it’s just something a guy said in an unguarded moment. He may have been putting us on. But we don’t think so. We have decided to prepare.

We’re getting this website ready to be the nerve center. Come here to get the day-by-day. And this will be the place to tell your story, about your life once the crisis hits. Nobody else can tell your story – you’re the authority on that.

If it is an oil shock, no one is going to be unaffected. There will be disruption and suffering, and probably chaos. Having a place to connect with others is gonna be vital. We will be in it together. Nobody should suffer in silence.
(April 2007)

It’s time to face reality of finite oil supply

Bill Boyne, Post Bulletin
What will happen when the Age of Oil ends?

If you want to understand the ultimate effects, just visualize a crowded interstate highway with four lanes of traffic speeding in each direction. Then imagine what would happen if all the cars and trucks suddenly stopped — not only on that highway but on roads all over the nation and all over the world.

Everything would stop — trucks carrying oil and farm products, commuters going to work, travelers heading for vacation, state police cars, Greyhound buses — everything.
Of course, in the real world that would not happen all at once. But when the Oil Peak arrives, that could be the ultimate result as gasoline and diesel oil became more and more scarce. The damage could be reduced if the world begins to recognize the problem and makes a transition to renewable fuels and plug-in electric cars, but as of now not enough people or public officials take the issue seriously.

The Oil Peak and its consequences were among the topics discussed by Norm Erickson in the first of a series of lectures at the University Center Rochester last Thursday. Erickson, an IBM employee for 32 years, has delved deeply into the Oil Peak, energy issues, and global warming. He is convinced that oil production throughout the world is already declining or will begin to do so in a short time. ..
(12 Apr 2007)